- how many kinds of doctors are there in the world?
- what's the best car?
- why do penguins eat fish?
- why did Martin Luther King call his speech "I have a dream"
- were Batman and Robin friends?
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
This week, Wikipedia has been my best friend and worst enemy. Ok, that may be a bit melodramatic, but I have seen it's good and bad side. (Impressive, for a 2 day week!)
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Dierdre,This is Jerome Burg, from Google Lit Trips. I just wanted to thank you for your excellent introduction to the project. I'm honored by your kind words. I don't know if you noticed the new link to videos on the front page, but that link is actually a search string that finds all YouTube videos about Google Lit Trips. I just tested it and sure enough yours shows up.Thanks again, it means much to me.Jerome
Before fall break, a teacher came up to me and said some of my favorite words (other than, "Go home, take the day off, you deserve it!"). He said, "Hey, I'd really love some help with integrating technology, especially now that I have the new Activboard. Can you help me sometime?" Yes, yes!!! :-) This is one of my favorite things to do at school. [Note that I didn't say one of my favorite things is to FIX technology.]
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
- First, write something positive or a compliment. Just as teachers can always find at least something positive to say about a student's writing, we should all be able to find something positive to say about a blog post.
- Second, give a suggestion or ask a question about what they wrote. This tells the author that you are interested in what they have to say on a given topic.
- Third, add information to what they said. This might be a related experience or information that they might not know about their topic. This way, the author's knowledge is deepened by your comment.
- Sample comment: That's cool that you like bracelets. They're colorful and very creative. Do you make them yourself? Colors of bracelets have meanings too!
- Comments are NOT private communication between you and the post author. Anyone in the world can read them, LITERALLY, including parents, friends, principals, teachers, people in China, etc. (I emphasized this a lot to 13 year olds!)
- People form opinions of you based on what you write. You want to make sure that people know you are an intelligent human being by using proper grammar, spelling, and that you double-check for silly mistakes before you submit comments. This also means no text language! You don't want someone thinking that you think the word "you" has 1 letter! Also, 17 exclamation points are unnecessary. One or two get the point across just as well.
- You are free to disagree with blog posts, but you must do it respectfully. This means not saying "Your crazy, that idea sucks!" but intelligently stating your opinion WITH REASONS, without being rude, insulting, or hurtful. Stating an opinion without reasons makes people dismiss your comments immediately.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Have you ever had an idea that hits you all at once? So far, (at least in education) my best ideas come to me this way. These are definitely the ideas that I'm the most passionate about. This includes the online class I taught about using interactive whiteboards, which I loved, and the idea I had for my first proposal to present at a conference (still waiting to hear about this one).
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
After a long, crazy, drawn-out summer of applications and interviews, (and not feeling like blogging), I'm back at school, teaching 7th grade Computers and 8th grade Photojournalism. This is a definite change from a 7th grade self-contained class, a change I'm thrilled to make. However, I'm not thrilled that I'll be traveling between 4 schools!!
There are definitely some bonuses though :-) One of those is that I get more prep, which is fantastic! I'm planning on using some of the extra time to do professional development with teachers who want it. I started out with this last week by doing a quick, 1 hour, "Meet Your Activboard" session for teachers who are brand new to it. They loved it. The more time I spend with teachers and technology, I realize that there are very few people who are totally against technology in the classroom; it turns out that most teachers would really like to learn how to use it, they just haven't had quality professional development. I hope that I can alleviate that issue :-)
Today was the first day of school, and I taught 2 lessons three or four times each, which I LOVED! 45 minutes each, and out the door :-) Such a relief. I think I'm going to love teaching photojournalism with the 8th graders. We did a brief discussion of what it was, and to give them a taste, I showed them a few photos from this series by the 1998 Pulitzer Prize winner. They were fascinated with it. Then, both 7th and 8th graders used www.wallwisher.com to post some unique things about themselves. Additionally, the 8th graders posted an image from Google of something that represented them (couldn't be a person) and they did a pretty good job, though 45 minutes for all of this plus going over rules wasn't quite enough time. Luckily, I have 19 more times to teach these classes to get everything right :-)
I think it'll be a good year :-)
Saturday, July 17, 2010
First and foremost we went to get Paris Museum passes, in order to avoid lines and save money. Since we happened to wander past it first, we checked out Sainte-Chapelle, an AMAZING set of stained glass windows in a small chapel that tell the story of the entire bible up to Jesus death. After grabbing a quick sandwich for lunch, we wandered up to the Champs-Elysses, past the Louvre (I know, I know, we're uncultured. None of us are particularly interested in that era of art) and enjoyed a respite sitting by a fountain in the Tuileries gardens.
As we wandered our way to the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysee, it was clear that there had been some large event there, which was being cleaned up (bleachers, streets blocked off, etc.) and then realized that the Tour de France had just ended at that location, days earlier. After window shopping at the high end places (like the flagship Louis Vuitton store), we climbed a never-ending spiral staircase to the top of the Arc, which had beautiful views of the city and the Eiffel Tower. When we came down, we watched in amazement as nobody was killed in the crazy traffic circle around the Arc, in which 12 streets all come into one gigantic, insane traffic circle.
Finally, we decided it was time to examine the Eiffel Tower in detail. When we got there, we decided to eat a lovely French supper overlooking the Eiffel Tower until twlight fell, and watch the tower light up and then climb it. In actuality, the sun doesn't set in Paris until like 10:00 PM, so we had things like goat cheese, quiche, and duck for supper overlooking the tower, and then realized itwas going to be at LEAST another hour and a half before it got dark. Hence, we just decided to start climbing, which ended up being cool, because we were on it right at sunset. We could only climb up to the 2nd floor, but it was amazing, nonetheless, especially lit up at night. The best part was that it lit up and had flashing strobe lights at the top of every hour, which was absolutely breath-taking from outside the tower, as the whole thing basically appeared to be sparkling. Even though it was packed with tourists and people selling crap, it was absolutely, 100% worth it :-)
Monday, April 26, 2010
One of the lessons I've learned in teaching is that I have a responsibility, as a teacher, to tell kids what gifts I recognize in them, whether or not they do themselves. In fact, it is even more important if they are unaware of it. Hence, I've intentionally started telling kids what I think they'd be good at, in terms of a career, or the types of roles they might occupy down the line. When I told a current student that she should consider a career as a writer or journalist, she was embarrassed, but clearly excited to consider such a thing. In middle school, being given a word of direction or encouragement is sometimes all that is needed to get them to start seriously considering their futures.
I have been doing this a lot in the recent past, as opportunities have arisen. When a middle school leadership conference opportunity came up, I picked as many kids as I as allowed (3). When I asked specific kids if they were interested, they all said yes (yay for my judgement :-)) and one fairly beamed when I asked her. Upon returning from the conference today, they all said they had a wonderful time and were thrilled at being given the opportunity to attend. One even said, "Mrs. Shetler, will you please tell my 8th grade teacher that I would like to be selected to attend this event next year as well?"
Then, several weeks ago, I selected 8 or 10 students to be recognized via People to People as students with potential leadership. (You know, the type of organization that invites you to attend a "reception gala" in DC--on your own dime, of course--and then asks you to buy the book with your name in it for $29.99 or something. I didn't really care about the rest, just wanted kids to know they were thought of in that way.) On Thursday, the selected students received letters explaining this. Right away, I had kids come up to me saying things like, "Thank you for nominating me, Mrs. Shetler!" and "My mom was so proud of me!" and "My mom is going to frame that letter!" and "I get the window and John gets the aisle when we go to Washington!" I wasn't sure how to explain to them how the trip actually works, though I tried. (But today, I still had students talking about having car washes to raise money to go!) So, I was thrilled at how excited those kids were.
Unintended consequence though: all the kids that didn't get nominated wanted to know why! I felt so bad when one of my gifted kids who I've had for two years now asked why I didn't nominate him... So, I had to explain to them that no matter how smart they may be, leadership is just one of many desirable traits a person can have.
Despite this philosophy putting me in the occasional tough position, I still firmly believe that it is essential to recognize skills in students, especially leadership skills, since it is clear that we are in desperate need of future leaders in this state!
Monday, March 15, 2010
"How did you get your administrator to let you go to that MEC conference at ASU??" Well, I asked. If you wish you could go to a fun tech conference, ASK! I can't guarantee it'll work all the time, but it works more often than you'd imagine :-) I had a blast today at my first big edtech conference, and especially had fun tweeting about it! I never get to tweet that much since I don't have a data plan on my phone :-) Anyway, here's a quick summary of some of the cool things I learned about:
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
In a good example of the double-edged sword of web blockers, I posed a veiled challenge to my kids a week or two ago. We were getting ready for our quarterly benchmark tests and I knew we hadn't talked about tides yet in science and that it was going to be on the test, and I was running short on time. Hence, I wrote the following on the board: Find a video online that describes to you how tides work. Then embed that video in a blog post. I have never done any of those things with the kids before, but I wanted to see what/how they'd do :-)
Not surprisingly, they knew exactly how to find videos, but they also know that youtube is blocked. So, immediately, one kid raises his hand and asks what to do, since youtube was blocked. I said, "Figure it out," knowing that 1) there are plenty of other places to find videos online, and 2) there are even more proxys available which get you around web blockers to the blocked site. 30 seconds after the first kid raised his hand, someone else goes, "Got it! I'm in!" They found a proxy (several actually) that worked, and others used various other sources. Eventually, everyone got a basic idea of how tides work, though we ran out of time for the embedding bit. I'll try that again some other time :-) Then, to guarantee that everyone had the same understanding I wanted them to have, I showed them this high-quality video from HowStuffWorks, which helped out as well. Yay for technology!
As the kids (and the teachers) start to wind up for our state standardized testing (AIMS) and other tests, stress levels rise and behavior goes down the tubes. Needless to say, this is true on both sides of the teacher's desk. So, as is usually my M.O., I've resorted to technology to ratchet down stress levels and behavior issues.
About a month ago, I ran across this genius idea by @rmbyrne on Twitter (author of the always excellent Free Technology for Teachers blog). His idea was to take a topic and compare what different technology sources say about it. So, since women's suffrage was next up in our march through US History, we read the 8 paragraphs in the textbook about women's suffrage, then read sections of the Wikipedia entry on the same topic, and then looked at primary source documents (which we've studied) about women's suffrage. Then, the students wrote blog posts explaining why they would choose one source over another, and how the information that was offered by each differed.
This turned out to be a great exercise. It benefitted the students in several ways. First, it showed them the beauty of Wikipedia (which they've discovered off-handedly, but we haven't done any direct work with). They weren't aware how much information could be found there, which needless to say, is a wealth of information. Next, in order to save time, which was not surprisingly, running short, I found about handful of primary source items available online (poems, photos, legislative documents, etc.) , showed them to the kids and explained them. First of all, they were very interested in them, which was great. But even better, I was shocked to discover that they were fascinated with the concept of the Library of Congress, where I'd found some of the sources. They just thought it was the coolest thing that there was a place where all these original sources were stored :-) Bonus for the LOC! And finally, they were able to reflect on which source was most effective in various ways on the class blog, by answering some questions I posed.
Speaking of the blog, I was thrilled to discover last week that somehow, a college class of students studying to be teachers discovered our class blog and posted lots of comments on it. The kids were THRILLED to see that other people actually cared about what they had to say!
It occurred to me recently, that after 5 years of teaching, I'm a good teacher, but I'm still an awful classroom manager, and it exhausts me every single day. No, I take it back. I knew that already. What occurred to me is that there are ways around that part of teaching, and I really don't have to make myself suffer through something that just does not come naturally to me.
Lucky for me, I (will in May) have a degree that can get me to those kinds of jobs. So, this year, I'm not just applying to 2 places, I'm looking at all kinds of other places, from teaching educational technology at online universities or in face-to-face community colleges, to teaching basic computer classes to middle schoolers, to doing professional development for teachers, to teaching online classes for a K-12 online school.
So, I've sent out inquiries to many of these places and am planning on sending out more. I finished my Curriculum Vitae the other day, which felt good (and professional :-)) It was surprising as I created the CV and my resume, to realize that I am actually pretty qualified for many of the positions I listed above! Good job, NAU! It feels great to actually have some options outside of teaching in an elementary self-contained classroom. That's the thing with a BA in education. Generally, the only thing you can do with it is teach. So, I'm excited to have more options. Wish me luck!